Local residents and business owners acknowledged this week during a public meeting with state transportation officials that changes need to be made to Ohio 235.
But they also said they feared a $3 million safety plan presented at Park Layne Elementary School on Thursday by the Ohio Department of Transportation District 7 will make it difficult for customers to get to establishments along the corridor and may force some out of business.
Woody Childers, of the Mel-O-Dee Restaurant in New Carlisle, said the restaurant will celebrate 50 years in business next year, but changes to Ohio 235 would impact business.
“I think I can see the need for some of the changes. But when I look around our parking lot, I don’t see how we can live with losing that much parking. We already lease some parking next door to us, our overflow parking. It looks to me like we’re going to lose all of our side parking and part of our front parking,” Childers said.
Several fatal and severe injury collisions have occurred along Ohio 235, which averages about 11,660 vehicles per day, according to Clark County-Springfield Transportation Coordinating Committee Director Scott Schmid.
ODOT District 7 has released plans to consolidate driveways, add sidewalks, install street lights, add a bike path and upgrade traffic signals along the corridor between Gerlaugh and Dille roads to improve safety.
Other potential improvements include closing Hocker Avenue at Ohio 235 and creating a single access point to McAdams Drive in front of Fulmer Community Market.
The plan calls for lighting to be installed along the entire corridor from Dille to Gerlaugh and indicates that up to 20 driveways could be eliminated or modified to streamline entry and exits to Ohio 235.
Dave Closely, of the Park Layne Sunoco, told District 7 officials during the meeting that the current plan would greatly impair his business.
“It would be difficult getting in and out. It would be physically impossible,” Closely said.
Closely said his business has been along the corridor since 1977 and he has seen the area around his property redesigned with approval from the state before. He said he’s still paying for those changes and expressed frustration about plans to close so many driveways along the road.
“Some modifications would be helpful, but we can’t just shut down everything and do what they’re saying,” Closely said.
Closely and others who attended the meeting suggested officials lower the speed limit from 45 mph to 40 mph.
But ODOT District 7 Traffic and Planning Engineer Craig Eley told the crowd that traffic studies indicate the speed limit should remain at 45 mph.
Eley and others urged residents with concerns about the plan for Ohio 235 to submit their comments by May 19 to: ODOT District 7, 1001 St. Mary’s Ave., Sidney, OH. 45365.